How To Deal With Your Period While on the Road

One of the most frequent questions I receive is how I manage my menstruation while living and traveling in a van full-time. Since I started van life in 2019, dealing with periods has been a journey of multiple trials and errors. But eventually, I found the best solution that works for me.

In this post, I will share the tips I’ve learned after over 2+years of traveling in our camper van. I also share the products I use today that have helped me live comfortably during that ‘time of the month.’

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Though we may earn a commission, the price you pay always remains the same.

Menstrual Cup


  • Reusable / Zero Waste
  • Compact / Fits In A Small Bag
  • Easy To Wash
  • Holds up to 12 hours
  • No Bad Odor


  • May take time to find your perfect fit
  • Inserting & pulling out takes practice

Cups for Beginners (Flex Cup)

The Flex Cup is the best choice for first-time users because they have a pull-out tab, similar to a tampon, and you don’t have to insert your fingers to pull it out. Also, the cup material is relatively firm, so it’s easier to insert without having difficulty popping it open.

For starting out, the Flex Cup is perfect.

Cups for Experienced Users (Lena Cup)

Today, I use the Lena Menstrual Cup. Although the Flex cup was easier to use, it wasn’t a perfect fit for me, and I had some leakage.

Like me, if you think you have heavier flows than average, the Lena Cup (large) is perfect for you. It is a little bit softer than the Flex cup, but I feel it seals better, and the shape of the cup avoids leakage better on heavy days.

Menstruation Cup Maintenance (During Van Life)

In Public Bathroom: Wipe with tissues after emptying the cup and wash with soap (preferably non-fragrance and oil-free) and water. If you don’t have access to water immediately, use alcohol-free baby wipes to clean the cup, and wash again with water and soap when you return to your van.

After Every Cycle: Boil the clean cup for 5 minutes and dry it at room temperature.

Note: The best way to determine which cup is right for you is to measure your cervix height. Here is the helpful resource:

How to Measure Your Cervix | Guide to Choosing Your Cup

Reusable Pads

During my heaviest flow days, I often pair my menstrual cup with a reusable pad for backup. These are a fantastic choice if you are concerned about constantly buying disposable pads and creating needless waste. Rael has a great selection of reusable pads made of certified organic cotton and has the best airflow that doesn’t irritate my skin.


  • Reusable / Zero Waste
  • Easy to use
  • Machine Wash OK


  • It would help if you had a lot of water for hand wash
  • You need to change them frequently
Rael | Reusable Pads

100% certified organic cotton and manufactured without the use of toxins. Five layers of moisture-wicking cotton for maximum airflow. Laundry-machine safe.

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04/07/2024 11:57 am GMT

Period Underwear

Of all of the underwear products I’ve tried, I settled on Thinx organic cotton brief underwear. Made of organic cotton, Thinx is very comfortable to wear. I’ve never had leaks during light days but have had them during heavy days, even though they’re supposedly made to withstand heavy flows.

Woman showing off her period underwear at an RV campground
Showing off a period-free morning!


  • Reusable / Zero Waste
  • Best for light day without leaking
  • Quick dry
  • Machine Wash OK


  • Doesn’t work well if you have heavy flows
  • Need sufficient water to hand wash
  • May cause a bad odor if you don’t wash it properly
THINX | Hi-Waist Period Underwear for Women

Perfect stand-alone solution for most days with low to medium flow. Made with soft, breathable fabric with built-in leak protection and a moisture-resistant barrier.

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04/07/2024 12:07 pm GMT

How To Care for Reusable Pads & Underwear

Three pairs of underwear hanging on a dry line.
Taking advantage of a sunny day to dry my underwear in the sun

Don’t leave your underwear and pads soaked in blood for too long since the stains tend to remain if you don’t take care of them quickly.

Wash the underwear and pads under cold running water, then machine wash them again with cold water at the next opportunity.

Hang them out in the sun to dry.

Which Menstrual Products Are Best for You?

Everyone’s menstrual flow is different, so there is no exact answer as to which one you should use. You don’t even have to choose just one. In my case, I have all three in my cabinet.

  • Menstrual cup
  • Reusable pad, and
  • Period underwear

I use all of them on the heaviest nights since I go without emptying my cup for at least 8+ hours while I sleep. For me, even a large Lena Cup can only hold a maximum of 5 hours on the heaviest day.

Woman laying down inside a camper van
Laying on my white blanket worry-free from leaks!

I only use period underwear on light days without wearing a cup or reusable pad. You can mix and switch methods depending on your flows and activity level.

It takes some time to find the best solution for you, but you will find one eventually as you get more comfortable living in a camper van.

Also Read: Van Life Safety Tips For Women

Listen to Your Body and Rest Occasionally

Oftentimes, you don’t have access to everything you need, such as a hot & high-pressure shower and clean bathrooms. Van life can be hard sometimes. And this is especially true during your period.

At the end of the day, there is no way to solve the problem 100%. You probably still have PMS and feel crappy after all.

A woman sitting inside a camper van looking outside with the back doors open
Taking it easy on a rough day

The most important thing to do is to listen to your body.

Forget about hiking in beautiful national parks and just Netflix all day instead. It is totally OK to do nothing. Just because you are doing van life doesn’t mean you must always be active.

Normally, when I have my period, I usually don’t camp for free and look to pay to sleep instead. For me, having access to a clean bathroom and shower facilities is important during my time of the month.

Final Thoughts About Dealing With Periods During Van Life

When I just started van life, I used disposable pads & tampons because those were the products I used back home in Japan. I never bothered to research any other options.

Woman standing in front of a camper van while parked at White Sands National Parked
Parked at White Sands National Park

Then when I began to live in my van, I began to notice how inconvenient it was to use disposable menstrual products.

The pads would take up a large amount of space in my cabinets.

The waste bin would quickly fill up with waste menstrual items.

And I realized how much money I’d spend monthly to buy pads and tampons.

Now I switched everything to reusable from disposal items. I no longer spend money on new products every month and don’t have to reserve space for large stocks of pads and tampons. Not to mention that creating less waste is better for our planet.

Experiencing van life with a period can seem daunting at first. But it’s certainly manageable, and switching to reusable from disposal menstrual products really makes sense during van life.

I hope you found my article useful. If you have any van life menstrual questions, please post a comment in the section below.

Happy traveling!

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